I’ve been rethinking my approach to publishing articles in publications. To my horror, I’ve seen links to hundreds of my old articles take people to “file not found” or other 404 pages. Other articles are now behind subscription or pay walls, or can be read only as you navigate through ad mazes.

Large audienceThat was never what I wanted. I don’t think any author would ever want that. I want as many readers as possible.

At best, in most cases I at least have my last draft that I submitted for publication still in my archive. The good news is that most of my articles don’t need much editing. The bad news is that these drafts are all I have to send people, including a recent potential client, as a copy of an article they can’t find instead of the working link I (and they) expected. I’m the one who looks like I don’t know what I’m doing when I send people to a dead link to my own article.

I dealt with this issue many years ago by posting drafts of missing articles as blog posts. I considered that possibility and, for now, have rejected it in favor of looking to the future.

typewriter typing "blog"I’ve also become frustrated by a publishing model that creates a big delay between when an article is finished and when it becomes available to an audience. I recently realized that an article I agreed to do with an end-of-February deadline will not appear until July. I’m now rethinking my approach to that article and keeping out ideas I want to get out into the world before July. The photo to the right made me think of how some publishers still think about blog content.

The long post/article I posed yesterday, “Outside Law Firm Panel Convergence – Innovation Driver or Innovation Destroyer?” is the first example of my new approach, which is actually a throwback to an old approach where I published to my blog first and publications requested the rights to reprint as an article in print or online.

For new articles that I write not done as a favor for an editor or under contract, I will publish first as a blog post. I call this #blogfirst. The post will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). People can use the post as they wish, only with attribution and only for non-commercial purposes as defined under the license. If someone wants to publish the post or a portion of it in their publication, they can contact me to discuss and we can reach mutually-agreeable terms.

Generally, after I post to my blog, I plan to post a somewhat-edited version (hoping my audience lets me know about typos, oversights, revisions, etc.) as an article on LinkedIn. For example, here is the LinkedIn version of the panel convergence article. Again, if someone wants to publish the post or a portion of it in their publication, they can contact me to discuss and we can reach mutually-agreeable terms.

This approach will keep the responsibility for the continuing presence on me (and sort of on Kevin O’Keefe at LexBlog, who hosts my site and in whom I have every confidence).

I believe this will be a very workable system for publishers who have wanted to use my articles in the past. If it adds extra steps or difficulties, the blame for that lies solely on your publisher colleagues, who seem to have forgotten that it is authors that provide the content that brings the audience that brings the dollars, and that authors deserve better treatment of their published articles than I’m currently seeing and experiencing.

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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Now available:

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Stories abound these days about general counsels wanting their outside law firms to help them with innovation and technology efforts. My own conversations indicate that the real wish goes a step further. General counsel want their outside firms to bring them measurable value with innovation and technology initiatives that align with their legal and, more importantly, business goals. Even a quick scan of a recent survey results from Thompson Hine will have you agreeing with their assessment that there is an “Innovation Gap.” Only 29% of participants said that their outside firms have brought them “significant” innovation.

Is it possible that an increasingly common practice in corporate law departments is a solution to achieving these innovation and technology goals?

Panel convergence (or, as I sometimes call it, panel consolidation) is now a popular approach in corporate law departments under pressure from CEOs and CFOs to gain control of legal spend. In some cases, making legal spend predictable and more certain can be more important than cost reduction, although fee discounting is commonly associated with panel convergence. The concept is a simple. A legal department puts out a request for proposals (“RFP”) for firms to pitch for a place on what will be a small and select list of approved outside law firms on the panel. Firms complete what tends to be a very long and complex questionnaire, firms are selected to present in person as part of a “beauty contest,” and finalists are selected.

Only the firms on the new panel list are eligible to receive work from the law department. Not making the panel will have drastic consequences for outside law firms. In most, if not all, cases, the convergence results in a dramatic reduction in the number of outside firms used by the law department.

I like to trace the notion of convergence back to quality pioneer W. Edwards Deming, who believed that by reducing the number of outside suppliers (he went so far as to suggest getting it down to one) and working with them to get aligned on business goals, you could achieve excellent business results. In the legal profession, the Dupont Legal Model and Jeff Carr’s ACES model are examples of this approach.

Some of the overarching goals of a panel convergence effort are:

  • “Rationalizing” and “right-sourcing” legal service providers (reducing number of firms and directing lawyers to the law firms (or, increasingly, alternative legal services providers) best suited for types of work).
  • Reducing or controlling costs, including discounts, flat fees, staffing changes, and alternative billing arrangements.
  • Creating long-term relationships with outside firms so they can understand the business and its goals and strategies.
  • Aligning outside firms with legal and business goals, objectives, strategies, and risk tolerance.
  • Maintaining consistent legal approaches.
  • Incentivizing outside firms to bring new ideas, innovation, and value to the client.
  • Addressing diversity and inclusion objectives.
  • Generating measurable value.

You can probably think of other goals as well.

The results of these efforts are mixed. Reducing the number of outside firms and achieving some kind of price discounting or cost control are probably the most common “wins.” However, my friends in the legal pricing world often say that the discounts tend to be smallish and law firms increase hourly rates to adjust for the discounting. Convergence efforts are difficult, time-consuming, and can raise all kinds of difficult issues, especially when longstanding outside firm relationships are put in jeopardy. The work on the finalization of the panel can be so difficult that the ongoing follow-up work of pursuing all the benefits of convergence is neglected. I talked to an in-house counsel who said that her law department hadn’t updated the firms on the approved panel in fifteen years.

Other common benefits that seem to take effect are enforcement of entering into specific engagement letters, staffing directives, timing of invoicing, e-billing, and participating in outside counsel management systems.

However, the goals of business alignment, value generation, and innovation often get lost in the process, in spite of the fact that many outside panel RFPs specifically address these issues. Just like firms often answer that they do literally every type of legal work, law departments often let firms get away with saying that they are “great on innovation too.”

I want to look at how panel convergence can, perhaps paradoxically, act as an innovation destroyer if not properly tended, how panel convergence should, if you follow good, often commonsense practices, act as an innovation driver, and suggest some practical action steps for you to consider.

Innovation Destroyer?

First, an observation, perhaps controversial. Panel convergence efforts do not achieve as much as they could because corporate legal departments do not appreciate the power that they have in what is now a buyers’ market. In simplest terms, outside firms under competitive pressure to stay on a panel or gain access to a panel are more willing to negotiate than you might expect. It is a huge benefit for a firm to get on a panel. If a firm is not on a panel, it is often extraordinarily difficult to get the firm added at a later point. If #BigLaw firms will not move enough for corporate law departments, many perfectly capable mid-market regional firms will do so. This buyers’ market observation applies especially to innovation.

There are three points where panel convergence efforts can damage or destroy innovation goals:

  1. RFP creation and solicitation of proposals;
  2. RFP and innovation pitch evaluation; and
  3. Maintenance and review of convergence effort.

RFPs.

In too many cases, panel convergence RFPs for outside firms run into the hundreds of pages. Even the section on innovation or technology can be lengthy, not on point, and cobbled together from multiple sources. In the worst case, a law department might abdicate responsibility for the RFP language to the procurement or sourcing department. I’m not sure that inhouse counsel needs to know much more at the RFP response stage than (1) what are examples of what a firm actually has done and are currently working on, (2) what would the firm plan to do specifically for the law department, (3) what people and infrastructure does the firm have for delivering innovation projects, and (4) what data demonstrates the firm’s level of commitment to innovation? If I have answers to those questions, I can probably make a decision about whether a firm passes the initial screen.

When you have lots of detailed RFP questions, you drastically reduce the chance that evaluators, especially lawyers, will read all of them. It’s a simple case of mathematics, especially when lawyers are “voluntold” that they are on the panel convergence project. You also increase the chance that the questions will be too vague, confusing, and even inapplicable. In other words, they might make things cloudier rather than clearer than a simple and direct approach. If you don’t feel comfortable with your RFP questions on innovation or whether they are working for you, you might want to get an outside second opinion. Similarly, a firm competing for a panel spot might consider the innovative approach of providing the answers to the four questions in the preceding paragraph as an executive summary or infographic.

A second factor in the RFP process is sending the RFP to the right firms and obtaining a large enough sample, especially when the lawyers involved in the process will be advocating for few proposals to evaluate. If innovation is a goal, you should start with Dan Linna’s Law Firm Innovation Index. Look to firms presenting at innovation conferences, firms that have Chief Innovation Officers, or other indicators of commitment to legal innovation.

RFP and Pitch Evaluations

I see RFP evaluation as a screening process to determine who gets to make a pitch, much like resume evaluation determines who gets an interview. The actual pitch is what gives you the information you need to make a decision.

The process can go very wrong in both places.

The biggest danger at both points is simply taking outside firms at their word. I have no doubt that every single law firm will tell you not only that they are great at innovation, but their future plans on innovation are amazing. Your task is to cut through the fog and obtain data and evidence that you can evaluate and use to make good decisions, or, at the very least, “good enough for now” decisions.

Another danger is trying to make a final decision on the basis of the response to the RFP. RFP responses should only be used to screen for firms you want to make a pitch, which means, firms you want to hear more details from. That is the job you are doing at the RFP evaluation stage.

In RFP evaluations, you might want to get an outside opinion to help you make the screen on innovation. The odds of any evaluator reading the innovation section in each of 50 several-hundred-page RFP responses are not good. That’s not a criticism – it’s a recognition of reality.

If innovation is a goal of your panel convergence effort, you will want not just examples, but you will want to meet the innovation team. It is reasonable and prudent to request that the firm’s Chief Innovation Officer or head of innovation take 10 – 15 minutes of a pitch presentation. Again, depending on your comfort level, this might be a place where you want to get an outside second opinion. You will ultimately make the final decision, but sometimes it’s good to have someone interpret and validate what you are hearing.

And, lest you forget, you will only get the innovation and technology proposals you ask for.

Follow-up and Maintenance

The panel is announced with great fanfare. Committee members are congratulated and get awards and bonuses – maybe. Victory is declared and the convergence team disbands.

Wrong. This is when the real work to make the effort a success begins.

There are many best practices you can find: single points of contact, initial meeting of panel firms, annual summits, introduction of outside counsel management systems, standardizing, and streamlining processes, engagement letters, discounts or flat fee implementation, and the like.

What about in the area of innovation?

Not so much, at this point. And that’s why the panel convergence approach can damage or destroy innovation. It’s the follow-up and maintenance that matter.

Let me use a bit of a gardening analogy to describe my approach to implementing successful convergence efforts. First, we need the gardeners – people who are responsible on an ongoing basis for the work and the results. We need to prepare the soil to give the project the best start and continuing growth. We need to plant enough seeds – more than we think – to improve the chances of harvest. Watering and nourishing, of course. Eliminating weeds and pests. Pruning to focus and enhance our results. Knowing what to harvest and what to throw away. And preparing for the next season. You get the idea. I’m confident that you don’t need me to explain the metaphors.

It’s hard work that requires constant attention. It’s easy to see how these programs can actually destroy innovation.

Too often, the innovation piece of convergence is vague or afterthought. Innovation can get orphaned, with no person or group tasked with supervising the efforts. Once firms are locked into panels, an “incumbency inertia” can take hold, especially if there is an attitude of being “too busy” with “real legal work.” By the way, it’s vital to screen that attitude out in the selection process if you can. If there is a standard, it becomes what the other panel firms are doing, which can be a reverse incentive. It’s easy for all kinds of incentives to get reversed and misaligned. As time goes on, diversity of ideas and innovation are decreased, because there is a limited universe of firms.

No one would be surprised to find that innovation efforts drop off the cliff after the first year the panel is selected. Concrete and specific plans, follow-up, and roadmaps must be put into place or you will see “drift.” Far too often, no evaluations, measures, metrics, key performance indicators, goals, or objectives are put into place. There might even be confusion at the basic level of what the firm charges for innovation work or whether it should be charged for at all. Are there systems for tracking efforts and results or giving feedback? Should you be using a formal counsel evaluation tool like Qualmet? Is there even an intake or workflow tool for innovation projects? Annual meetings with demos and showcases should be required.

There are two final big problems I want to mention. And they are very big.

The first happens when a law department doesn’t ask for the innovation efforts or tech recommendations to be made, even if they were part of the winning pitch. The flip of that, of course, is that the firm doesn’t pursue these efforts or take the initiative. And we are back to the gardener analogy and a single point of contact approach.

Second, and most important, there are no consequences for failure to provide the innovation work. Think back, for a moment, to the earlier story about a firm that had not changed a panel in fifteen years. What possible incentive could there be for those panel firms to change or take initiatives? In my legal career, the biggest surprise has been the unwillingness for corporate clients to fire outside firms that are not producing as promised. In this area, I’d be tempted to give the outside firms, as a first innovation project, designing a project workflow system with metrics, standards, and agreed-upon consequences built into it. And then I would challenge you to hold them to it.

Simply put, if you cannot weed out firms that aren’t delivering, you really don’t have much of a chance of overall success. Your panel convergence process will become a place where innovation goes to die. It’s a buyers’ market out there and there are alternatives, including alternative legal service providers.

INNOVATION DRIVER

I like to focus on what is possible and what can be done. Here’s my radical, but probably not surprising, proposition: properly done, panel convergence can drive your innovation efforts forward, align business goals, enhance collaboration, and achieve innovation wins and meaningful “return on innovation” with measurable value.

There’s a technique in design thinking referred to as “reversal” or “inversion.” What happens if we flip over our assumptions, change the end user, look through the opposite end of the telescope, and, well, you get the idea.

In simplest terms, if you reverse any of the points in the previous section, you start to move down the path to drive innovation efforts forward. Try it out as a thought experiment. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Oh, wait. I do have an even more radical idea. Outside firms should consider providing innovation services for free and part of their offering to be on the panel.

Here are twelve ways that you might consider using your panel convergence project to drive innovation from your panel firms.

  1. Use the panel to make it easy for outside firms learning the company’s business, business goals, and how the law department fits into the business. Encourage them to get an understanding of key problems, constraints, budgets, and objectives. The best innovation will be customer-centered innovation. Everything starts here. How will you make that happen?
  2. Make outside counsel put some skin in the game. Jeff Carr’s ACES approach of putting part of agreed-upon fees at risk if business results and value are not achieved is one example, but how might you incentivize the behaviors you want? It might be as simple as putting firms into red, yellow, or green status on innovation, with penalties for lack of effort or staying in the red or yellow category.
  3. Share how outside firms made their own technology decisions, their experiences, and their recommendations. General counsel want to move to new technologies, but typically don’t have the resources to investigate and make those decisions. There are benefits to having firms and clients on the same platforms, especially on collaboration tools. This “want” is often expressed on the in-house side, but rarely acted on by outside counsel.
  4. Start with staffing and workflow innovations, with an eye on cost savings, efficiencies, and “right sourcing” (getting the work into the hands of the right person at the right skill level and price). Legal departments are concerned about paying huge hourly rates for “commodity” work. Would using a litigation support project platform like ClariLegal generate cost savings and free up lawyer time?
  5. Track and monitor projects. Helping address those problem areas will achieve real-world benefits and open doors to future innovation projects. Build on small, measurable successes.
  6. Prune the panel list. You cannot freeze the panel for fifteen years. There should be an easy process for adding and dropping panel firms to reflect goals (e.g. diversity), movement (e.g., key lawyer or group moves to new firm), change (law firm mergers), business strategy (move into new markets or product lines), and the like. It is not a great place for an in-house counsel to be when they have to use old-line panel firms to handle blockchain or other new technology issues. A regular in-depth review should also be scheduled with promises tracked and consequences exacted. There is a huge benefit to firms to stay on a panel list and many firms, especially mid-market firms, would be happy to make better offers.
  7. Create measurements and metrics. Innovation is not some airy, vague set of new ideas. Innovation should produce practical results. With a panel, you can collaborate with firms to agree on appropriate metrics and how to track them.
  8. Share goals and objectives. Aligning the law department’s goals and objectives to innovation efforts is a powerful to set direction and strategy. If the law department knows the business problems its business owners want to solve, and the outside law firms are aligned to solving those problems, the results can be very good for everyone. Innovation should be focused like a laser on the client’s problems. Innovation is fundamentally a client-centered exercise. If the word “value” is not at the top of your discussion list with outside firms, you should be asking yourself why it isn’t.
  9. Connect the people. I like the idea of having “single points or contact” for innovation efforts, with each firm. Consider at least monthly calls, quarterly design thinking or brainstorming events, and annual “summits” where all of the innovation contacts meet and share ideas and goals.
  10. Thoughtfully implement standard innovation practices that fit your culture. Proof of concept and other experiments. Design sprints and minimum viable product approaches. A portfolio of approaches. Collecting stories to share. Identifying the right talent. Building on successes. In certain cases, does a firm or law department want to start its own innovation lab or outsource the use of an innovation lab or design group? What outside help do you need and what work should stay as part of your core competence?
  11. Put into place a system of communication, collaboration, and incentives. What happens if we turn a great idea into a product? How do we make this organic and self-sustaining? How do we measure early-stage benefits?
  12. Focus on the “Why?” first. A common principle in innovation is answer the “Why?” first, then move to “What?” and, only then move to the “How?” I don’t mention technology much in this article, because it will be part of the “how.” Your focus should be on first things first.

Isn’t all of this way more exciting than getting a 15% discount on standard hourly rates?

PRACTICAL ACTION STEPS

I want to end with a bunch of practical action steps. Here are some for you to consider:

  • Make a firm decision that you want to want to use panel convergence to drive innovation in legal services. Start with the “Why?” If you get that question answered, your path becomes so much easier to see.
  • Take a breath and take a bit of time to reflect on whether your panel convergence process is matching your most important goals and objectives and whether it is addressing your problem areas.
  • Review your panel convergence RFP, especially on innovation and technology, and simplify, simplify, simplify. What do you want to know that matters? Ask only that.
  • Require an outside firm’s Chief Innovation Officer or innovation team to present as part of the pitch presentation. That is who you will be working with on actual projects.
  • Develop a framework and approach to evaluating RFP responses and pitches. Get data and evidence.
  • Request (or volunteer) to participate in design sprints, innovation labs, or productization efforts with panel firms. Offer your problems and issues as experiments for the firm to work on. There’s no harm in asking if participation comes with no charge. Firms need plenty of client feedback on their own efforts.
  • Find ways to get outside firms to put skin in the game. Be creative and see what else is happening in the industry, and in other professions.
  • Measure activity and create a simple set of metrics and key performance indicators to track. Then act upon them and track your results.
  • Be constantly on the lookout for internal resources who would be happy to participate in innovation efforts. Results will be mixed, at best, if you assign unwilling lawyers to participate.
  • See innovation as a process of experimentation – some things will work and some will not – and learning.
  • When in doubt, give people logoed T-shirts. We are all humans, after all.

For outside firms, or those who want to be on panels, use the reversal or inversion method on the practical action steps above and you’ll see your own list.

TAKING IT FORWARD

I’ve become intrigued how an often clunky existing process with mixed results – panel convergence – can, if properly handled, be turned into an engine to drive innovation. Having vision is important, as is being willing to make hard decisions and do experiments. Panel incumbency should not mean entitlement and tenure. There are many firms, with mid-market firms being especially interesting because of motivation and nimbleness, who are able and willing to step up on innovation efforts to provide measurable value for key clients. Lack of action has consequences. The legal market says that it is ready to innovate. Let’s see firms and law departments prove it.

– Dennis Kennedy

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I look forward to discussions this post might start. I’m making it available to share under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License. If you want to publish this post or a portion of it as an article, I’m happy to talk about it and reach mutually-acceptable terms.

Photo from Pexels

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

The American Bar Association, for many years, has surveyed lawyers about their use of technology. The 2018 results are now available. The full results are available for purchase here.

The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (fondly acronymized as “LTRC”) has been publishing summaries of key findings from the survey as TECHREPORTS, which are available at no charge. The TECHREPORTS for the 2018 survey may be found here.

I wanted to highlight the Cloud Computing TECHREPORT, in part because I wrote it, but in larger part because the security results are very worrisome and troubling to me.

Here’s the money quote:

Confidentiality, security, data control and ownership, ethics, vendor reputation and longevity, and other concerns weigh heavily on the minds of lawyers, yet the employment of precautionary security measures is quite low, with no more than 38.1% of respondents actually taking any one of the specific standard cautionary security measures listed in the 2018 Survey question on the topic. 10.7%, an increase from 9% in 2017, reported taking no security precautions of the types listed. Only 40.7% of respondents report that adoption of cloud computing resulted in changes to internal technology or security policies.

I conclude the Cloud Computing TECHREPOORT with:

Reported growth in cloud use stayed relatively flat in 2018. However, the continuing lack of actual attention to confidentiality, security, and due diligence issues remains a serious concern, especially with the growth in mobile apps running on cloud services. The results on security procedures will continue to fuel client concerns about security efforts by their outside law firms.

There is much that law firm IT departments and technology committees, legal technology vendors and consultants, corporate law departments, clients, and all legal professionals interested in the adoption of technology by lawyers can learn from these results. They give us much to think about and some indications where firms might want to move their technology strategies in the coming year and beyond. Applying basic common sense, diligence, and increased attention to security efforts might be the biggest lesson to learn for the upcoming year. In short, cloud cybersecurity must be on your technology plan for 2019.

The survey findings on cloud computing will be of special interest to cloud vendors, law firm clients, and law firms making strategic technology and innovation plans. Although, as I note in the TECHREPORT, some of the results indicate a probably lack of understanding about the cloud and cloud usage by some respondents, you will find the trends over the last few years quite revealing about the legal industry.

As always, I’m happy to hear your feedback on the Cloud Computing TECHREPORT, highly recommend all of the TECHREPORTS to you, and encourage you let the LTRC know if you have suggestions for improving the survey questions and the TECHREPORTS.

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

A quick look back at 2018.

A big move to Ann Arbor, Michigan after taking early retirement from Mastercard.

Being convinced by my wife and daughter to take what they like to call a gap year. Or maybe a gap year or so, essentially leading to a “portfolio” phase of my career.

Not that I haven’t done a few things.

Tom Mighell and I published the new edition of our book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, and were thrilled with the excellent reviews and comments we received.

Speaking of Tom, he and I completed another year of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast on the Legal Talk Network. We’re up to episode 227, and started back in 2006. We had some of our best shows ever this year. Check out the podcast!

Tom and I also got one of our all-too-rare opportunities to present together. We spoke about the under appreciated area of cybersecurity and collaboration tools at the College of Law Practice Management’s Futures Conference.

I hosted a live video interview show from the ABA TECHSHOW and, although I phased back on speaking in 2018, got the chance to speak in Charlottetown, PEI for the Canadian Federation of Law Societies about future legal tech trends and AI, about corporate law departments as business enablers at Northwestern, and about legal innovation at the SOLID West conference.

I’m now an adjunct law professor in Michigan State University’s LegalRnD program. I had a great class this Fall on Entrepreneurial Lawyering. The students did an outstanding job and were accepting of my tendency to experiment. My syllabus for class is up on the Syllabi Commons. I’ll be teaching a class called “Delivering Legal Services” this spring.TimeSolv and ClariLegal

I also enjoyed getting the chance to do some advising for TimeSolv and ClariLegal, both doing very cool things, in my opinion. I’m likely to do more of that in the future.A big thank you to my new neighbor, Cash Butler of ClariLegal, for introducing me to Ann Arbor and for many great conversations.

I didn’t do a lot of writing this year – I always need time to wind down after finishing a book – but I did participate regularly in the Law Technology Today’s monthly roundtable series. I also completed my three-year term as chair of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center board. I’m quite pleased with what we were able to accomplish, especially the Women of Legal Technology recognition program.

And much more – some good travel, family time, Steve Earle and Melissa Etheridge concerts, seeing friends, and just getting to rest after a long, hard stretch of working. Didn’t realize how tired I had gotten.

I’m also really happy to have gotten some time to think, read, learn, and put together ideas and and plans for 2019. Watch this space.

A special thank you to my wife for both encouraging and tolerating me in this phase of my work.

All best for 2019 to all.

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[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now available:

The second edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

My first published article of 2018 has appeared in Law Practice magazine and it’s called “Thinking Smartly About Smart Contracts.”

The editors of the magazine approached me a while back to see if I wanted to write a blockchain article that would introduce lawyers and others to the blockchain concept and its implications. I told them that I felt that the article Gwynne Monahan and I wrote last year (“Lawyers Get Ready, There’s a Blockchain Coming“) was still a good starting point. However, I said, I was willing to write an article that was a primer about “smart contracting,” which is a next big step in blockchain evolution. They liked the idea and the result is this article.

Smart contracts can be thought of as “apps” that run on blockchains and embed “if-then” logic so that certain activities occur automatically. People have been intrigued by how they might take the place of standard legal contracts in certain situations.

My article introduces the key concepts, gives some examples, and suggests ways that smart contracts might impact lawyers and the legal system.

The money quote:

Smart contracting could help people who can’t afford lawyers or in areas like online commerce where lawyer involvement in every dispute is not practical because of the amounts involved or volume. Removing commodity legal work also frees lawyers to do more creative, high-value work.

This article is my contribution to getting conversation started about blockchains and smart contracts. I’ve been very pleased by the positive reaction the article has gotten already. Let me know what you think. And check out the rest of the issue of the magazine – there are some very good articles on important topics.

 

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog is now part of the LexBlog network.

View Dennis Kennedy's profile on LinkedIn

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Blockchain technology is a topic that interests me greatly. It also is a favorite topic of my occasional co-author, Gwynne Monahan (often better known as @econwriter5 on Twitter). We have talked off and on for a while about collaborating on an article about blockchain tech.

The timing was right a month or two ago when I was asked about writing an article for the January tech-themed article of the ABA’s Law Practice Today.

Continue Reading Lawyers Get Ready, There’s a Blockchain Coming

Blockchain technology is a topic that interests me greatly. It also is a favorite topic of my occasional co-author, Gwynne Monahan (often better known as @econwriter5 on Twitter). We have talked off and on for a while about collaborating on an article about blockchain tech.

The timing was right a month or two ago when I was asked about writing an article for the January tech-themed article of the ABA’s Law Practice Today.

Continue Reading Lawyers Get Ready, There’s a Blockchain Coming

Allison Shields and I were talking the other day about LinkedIn and whether it was time to write a new edition of our book, LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers. Whether or not it’s time for a new edition, it became clear that we (meaning especially me) were not ready to write it.

However, we did have some ideas for a new article about ways to improve how you add connections on LinkedIn. In it, we would share some new ideas and experiments we had been doing in that area. We decided to write that article and turn it into a bit of a science experiment as well.

Continue Reading Six Ways to Jump Start Your LinkedIn Network (New Article)

One of my favorite writing outlets these days is the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Law Technology Today blogltrc-temporary-logo. I’m a regular participant in a series of monthly roundtable discussions by LTRC board members on technology topics.

Today, the latest of these was posted and it’s called “Finding a Work Life Balance Through Technology.”

Continue Reading Tech/Life Balance and Other Law Technology Today Roundtables